ATLANTA – A federal investigation has determined a Cartersville chemical manufacturer could have prevented a 52-year-old leach tank operator from suffering fatal chemical and thermal burns over most of his body in June 2023 by following required safety regulations.Investigators with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined the Chemical Products Corp. employee — on the job just two months — opened an air intake valve to inspect a noise coming from a barium sulfide wash cone with a steam line that was left open the day before. A rush of cold air in the steam line created a bubble that pushed up heated sludge onto the worker, causing fatal burns. A second worker suffered second-degree burns across their upper body.Before OSHA concluded the investigation, the agency learned that 25 days after the fatal incident, another employee inspecting a leaking gasket under a tank full of sodium hydroxide solution suffered chemical burns when the tank overflowed. The second incident remains under investigation.“Our investigation found that Chemical Products Corp.’s failure to make employee safety a priority allowed conditions that cost a worker his life,” said OSHA Area Office Director Jeffery Stawowy in Atlanta-West. “Two serious incidents just weeks apart show that the culture at Chemical Products Corp. must change to emphasize worker safety and health. OSHA will continue to monitor and hold the company accountable until there are changes.”OSHA cited the company for five serious violations after finding the company did the following:Failed to establish energy control procedures, creating thermal and chemical hazards. Failed to periodically inspect the energy control procedures, at least annually, while employees were tasked with applying lockout/tagout devices.Allowed slip and trip hazards to exist by failing to keep mid-tier catwalks free of corrosion.Exposed employees to entrapment hazards by not clearly marking the routes to emergency exits.Failed to provide readily accessible safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals in the facility. OSHA has proposed $55,403 in penalties, an amount set by federal statute. Operating for 90 years, Chemical Products Corp. is an inorganic chemical manufacturer that employs about 136 workers. The employer produces barium and sulfur compounds used as active ingredients in cleaners, hair removal products and pigment enhancers, and operates a global raw-material supply chain.The company has 15 business days from receipt of their citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.Visit OSHA’s website for information on developing a workplace safety and health program. Employers can also contact the agency for information about OSHA’s compliance assistance resources and for free help on complying with OSHA standards.
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